The airline industry rides a train that is propelled by many different factors, such as the state of the economy, jet fuel prices, people’s view of the industry itself and the image of the individual airline entity. Founded by Clive Beddoe, Don Bell, Mark Hill and Tim Morgan, WestJet has been riding a different train from the get-go since its inauguration in 1996,. Nobody would have thought that a bottom-up management structure in an airline business would work so well. The culture that they have built is now part of their brand and they are proud of it.
As their culture being part of their brand, the low-cost, no hassle airliner should have some contingency plans in place to secure their business and culture. The culture, at the moment, is “a very relaxed, fun, youthful environment in which creativity and innovation are rewarded” (WestJet airlines). The company looks for younger recruits and actually prefer people with less experience (ref). This will be addressed later on in our document. Unfortunately, experience is somewhat of a necessity in a business that can suffer tremendous repercussions for human mistakes.
As experience plays a key role in maintaining job confidence and comfortability, it also plays a major role in top management. People, generally, either look up to management or despise top management. WestJet has tried to mitigate this problem by hiring people they think that will match their culture. If they do not fit into the culture, simply put, they are let-go. This can put a lot of pressure on new managers as they may have some pre-flight jitters.
Being nervous is one thing but feeling threatened is by no means a light topic. This is why WestJet has adopted Pro-Active Communication Team (PACT). It is a sort of union analogy, acting as an output for employees to communicate to upper level management and across work groups. Unions often create the image of a “you versus us” mentality and this is damaging to a culture that is founded on a “there is no I but we” mentality. WestJet is trying to lift the company to new heights by empowering their employees. The company is straight forward with its employees.
Being straight forward is a good thing but sometimes it can be bad. WestJet employees have been enjoying profit-sharing like at no other airline company. When things go up, they must come down and that has been the case of WestJet’s recent quarterly reports, stating lower and lower profits (Need a reference to this please). This can send two main messages out to the employees of WestJet: we aren’t doing enough or we are doing enough but it is not doing anything to better us. Humans derive a drive from within themselves and without this drive they do not feel as compelled to do what they are asked of them. This could hurt the company in the long run if an employee is not diligent. Appropriate recognition schemes are needed to maintain the hard working and entrepreneurial culture WestJet has tried so hard to establish. Recognition, communication, and support need to be addressed for the further growth of employees and customer relations. Consistency with the public and employees need to be maintained. The airline industry is heavily scrutinized by the media. This means that internal problems that affect any part of the business must be dealt with in a transparent and swift manner.
As a business transitions to the next level it encounters new problems that it must address. WestJet has gone from a three fleet airliner to a 76 fleet airliner in a little over 12 years. It still has the feel of a small business, where management is still in the trenches but may no longer sustainable. Below, we have outlined the areas that we believe are paramount to WestJetters and the future of WestJet.
WestJet has a strong organizational culture and differentiates itself in the market by emphasizing its people. A major component of its corporate values is...